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Will popular Stack Exchange sites get their own domain?

I have noticed that some of Stack Exchange's newer websites (i.e. any that were not part of the original trilogy, such as Ask Ubuntu and Stack Apps) have their own top-level URLs (e.g. askubuntu.com) instead of stackexchange.com URLs (e.g. skeptics.stackexchange.com).

When does a site qualify for its own TLD? Is it automatic after a certain amount of time, or were Ask Ubuntu and Stack Apps exceptions?

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It depends, you have to ask for it.

The "elevator pitch" section talks a bit about this, but discourages it.

Lot more about domain names here

Why they are discouraged

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